Ned Yost media session: August 9, 2014
The Royals bullpen was up to its usual tricks on Friday night, combining to toss four shutout innings and seal the Royals’ fifth consecutive victory. Closer Greg Holland and setup man Wade Davis have been among the best in baseball all season, but the emergence of Kelvin Herrera, Jason Frasor, and others, has been a pivotal factor in the club’s recent resurgence.
“It means a lot,” said manager Ned Yost. “Giving us the opportunity to make the game a five or six inning game, like we did last night, is really, really important. To have Herrera throwing as well as he is, and Wade as well as he is, and Holly as well as he is, with the addition of Frasor and Downs – they’ve mixed in quite well down there – and Aaron Crow has done a nice job.”
James Shields will get the start for Kansas City tonight, as the Royals look to take their sixth consecutive series. After having some struggles for the better part of June, Shields enjoyed considerable success during the month of July, posting a 1.93 ERA, 33 strikeouts, and just seven walks in five starts from July 7-29.
“He got back to who he was,” said Yost. “Guys are going to go up and down. They’re going to have struggles. You just ride them out. The season is such a long, drawn out season, and they can go through a little period of dead arm where they’re battling through games without their best stuff. It always seems to bounce back. That’s exactly what happened. He went through that little streak and all of a sudden, bam, he bounced back, and he’s feeling great.”
Shields isn’t the only Royal who appears to be feeling great of late. Veteran slugger Billy Butler has caught fire since taking over at first base for an injured Eric Hosmer on July 31, batting .429 (12-for-28) with two home runs, three doubles, and six RBI over that span.
“It had been a while since Billy was putting up Billy-like numbers,” said Yost. “But you always knew that hopefully he was going to break out and start putting some offense up on the board for us, and he’s done that. He’s been impressive offensively here for us the last week or 10 days, but he’s been equally impressive defensively.”
In 14 games in place of his Gold Glove Award-winning teammate, Butler remains error-free.
“He’s kept himself ready all season long,” said Yost. “He’s taken hundreds of ground balls over there at first base, every single day, preparing himself in case we needed him. And when Hoz broke his hand, we needed him, and he’s done a great job for us. He’s made plays on balls I didn’t think he’d get to, and ended up making it easy.”
By Kolby Paxton